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Onyx reviews: Into the Black Nowhere by Meg Gardiner
Reviewed by Bev Vincent, 12/16/2017
Meg Gardiner makes an interesting choice with her follow-up to Unsub,
the first book in a new series, published in 2017. Although Into the Black Nowhere follows
that earlier book chronologically, it does not directly pursue an unresolved thread from
the end of it.
Since her experiences with the Zodiak-like killer known as the Prophet,
former Alameda police detective Caitlin Hendrix has joined the Crimes Against
Adults division of the FBI's Behavioral Analysis Unit—in a very short
period she has risen from rookie detective to rookie Special Agent.
One of her first field cases involves a series of disappearances in the small
town of Solace in Central Texas. Five women have been reported missing on
Saturday nights over a six month period, taken without a struggle often from
public venues. This UNSUB must have a way of charming his victims without
raising alarms. The pace is accelerating, so the FBI is summoned. Shortly after
they arrive, the first body is found, suggestively dressed and posed, together
with evidence of the magnitude of this killer's spree. Not to mention evidence
revealing of his psychological pathology.
Gardiner, who lives in Austin, makes good use of her knowledge of that region
of Texas, delving into the small town politics and relationships that might
provide the FBI with the evidence they need to identify the killer. Caitlin's
profile—in unison with a helpful tip—points her in the direction of
one man, although there's no hard evidence against him.
She and her colleagues decide to pressure their prime suspect, a character
inspired by Ted Bundy, through the use of
overt surveillance, which flirts with harassment. Per the profile, this suspect,
no longer unknown, won't file a complaint because he thinks he's smarter than
the authorities. The pressure to kill builds within him, though, so he takes a
calculated risk to satisfy his needs, but the FBI is one step ahead, or so they
think. Just when they have him within their grip, he pulls off a daring escape
and leads Caitlin and the others on a cross-country chase. The bodies of those
who have worked against the killer pile up.
The shadow of the Ghost, the one who got away from the Prophet case, who may
still be plotting against her, lingers in the background throughout the novel.
Caitlin is also dealing with a long-distance relationship with boyfriend Sean
Rawlins, who works for the ATF in San Francisco, where he remains in close
proximity with his ex-wife, with whom he shares a daughter. His work is
dangerous—there's a serial bomber at work—but Caitlin has to keep
her head in the game because her nemesis is cagey and resourceful, and he may
have allies as well, so she can't allow herself to be distracted by domestic
This is another solid serial killer novel that explores the type of profiling
that will be familiar to viewers of Criminal Minds, although this team
flies on domestic airlines instead of on a dedicated Lear jet. The
psychological profiling is well-researched and utilized in the story, both in
assembling the events that created this twisted killer but in creating the
character of Caitlin, too, who has her own psychological baggage to mine. Her
life is personally at risk in this case because she has dared to challenge a
lunatic with delusions of grandeur and murderous intent.
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